News Categories: Parks & Trails

07 Aug
By: Communications 0

Rare Finds at Jones Park: Crested Coralroot Orchid and Eastern Lubber Grasshopper


Featuring bold colors in shades of red, yellow, and orange, the eastern lubber grasshopper (Romalea microptera) is no wallflower.

Known for its awkward movements and large size, the grasshopper is flightless and slow, mostly traveling by walking and crawling. In fact, the insect derives its name from “lubber,” a term sailors used to describe those who hadn’t developed their sea legs.

To ward away predators, the grasshopper relies on its colorful appearance and defensive behaviors, including spreading its wings, hissing, secreting a foul-smelling liquid, and vomiting.

Despite its showy colors, sightings of the insect are rare. iNaturalist documents that this giant insect has only been spotted nine times in Harris County. Fortunately, Jones Park Forester David Jamar recently found one at Jones Park and snapped this photo.

You can look for these insects hiding in leaves and open areas of the forest. Be sure to document your find on iNaturalist to help other citizen scientists find this fascinating grasshopper.


Take a walk through Jones Park and you may notice rare native orchids sprouting like mushrooms from decaying material along the forest floor. With light brown stems that tend to blend with leaf litter, the crested coralroot orchid (Hexalectris spicata) is easily overlooked. But those lucky enough to view the orchid up close are treated to flowers with creamy yellow petals veined in magenta and purple. Up to 25 small flowers grow from a single spike that ranges in size from 6 inches to more than 18 inches.

Unlike orchids typically sold in stores, the plant doesn’t grow leaves or contain chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their rich green color, so photosynthesis isn’t possible. Instead, the plant feeds on fungi and decaying organic matter.

Native to Texas and much of the Southern United States, this orchid prefers well-drained woodland areas but can grow in swamps, desert canyons, and over limestone and sandstone. Although the plant is listed as globally secure, it is still endangered or threatened in many native states.




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07 Aug
By: Communications 0

JJPV Thanks

Thank you, donors and volunteers, for the many ways you support Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center! Because of you, Jones Park remains one of Harris County’s top recreational facilities. This 312-acre park along Spring Creek continues to be a place where individuals and families can picnic, hike and bike along paved trails, paddle along the creek, fish, and participate in free programs and festivals. With your continued support and generosity, Jones Park will remain a favorite destination for discovering nature and Texas history.

 JJPV Thanks

June – July 2019

 Baker Hughes for their day of service replacing the chinking on our old-fashioned wood shop and collecting litter along the Kenswick drainage channel.

 Glenn Camp for donating a beautiful woodworking bench, drill press, log tongs, and bark scraper to support historical demonstrations at the Redbud Hill Homestead.

Creek Bash volunteers for donating 100 hours and collecting more than 270 pounds of litter.

Ray and Mary Ann Dendor for donating two antique saws and a potato rake of museum quality for display at the Redbud Hill Homestead.

Girl Scout Troop 9588 for selecting Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center as their favorite local non-profit organization and donating eight cases of delicious Girl Scout cookies for staff and volunteers to enjoy.

The Griffin Family for an Adopt-A-Trail day of service on the Cypress Overlook Trail.

Jesse Jones Park Volunteers for donating their time and talent to guarantee the success of Jones Park’s programs.

JJPV Board of Directors for their year of service and dedication to promoting the preservation of nature and Texas history.

Junior Canoe Training volunteers for overseeing the safety of 26 children learning to paddle along Spring Creek.

The Kabbalah Center for their day of service collecting litter along the Kenswick drainage channel.

Lone Star College-Kingwood Honors College for an Adopt-A-Trail day of service on the Palmetto Trail (South Loop).

Joe Naguit for sorting and transporting aluminum cans for recycling and shipping items to the Planet Green recycling program.

Planet Green for donating $42.75 when we recycled ink jet cartridges and small electronics through their recycling program.

Jim Ramay for donating another beautiful painting to the JJPV for auction and for donating $500 to support the mission of Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center. shoppers for donating $25.44 to JJPV.

Summer Nature Camp counselors for supervising 300 children at our True Texas Natives themed day camps.

Target Team 1904 for an Adopt-A-Trail day of service on the River Birch Trail – East Loop.

Texas Bound volunteers for guiding 28 children through our live-action pioneer game!

Texas Master Naturalist Gulf Coast Chapter for an Adopt-A-Trail day of service on the Canoe Launch Trail.


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07 Aug
By: Communications 0

Director’s Report

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.”

~ Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

Congratulations to the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers on their 30th anniversary! The original JJPV minutes book recently resurfaced from storage and brought back special memories. It was Feb. 4, 1989, when then-Director Tom Olsen called together a group of 15 volunteers and five staff members (including me) for the first Jones Park volunteer meeting. During the meeting, three volunteers were appointed as interim officers until the elections in August:  President Mary Keelen, Secretary Carol McCollough, and Treasurer Charles Boyd. The three helped create the JJPV bylaws, served as board presidents, and contributed to the same programs that we do today. Mary Keelen gave inspiration to and led one of my favorite Jones Park programs, the Tadpoles Club, including the “open-shut-them” rhyme. What fond memories I have of each of those special original volunteers.

Visitors may notice lush new growth along the trails, thanks to the regular rain this past summer. The conservation service groups have also helped curtail invasive plant species and assisted in litter removal. Thank you to all who participated in these volunteer service days.

End of the summer park projects kept everyone busy, including a homestead barn-raising, horse-trail clearing, rebuilding the steps for the overflow parking lot, and replacing the Nature Center windows. Best of all, the new park entrance monument sign project is underway.

Fall events are on the horizon, with a variety of volunteer opportunities available each month. Be sure to mark Tricks & Treats Among the Trees and Pioneer Day on your calendar! Whether you’re a new or longtime volunteer, you’re invited to help the JJPV celebrate 30 years on Monday, August 26, at 7 p.m.

Hope to see you about the park!

Darlene Conley Hostetler, Park Director

Staff Updates

We welcomed new staff caretaker Baldwin Swayzer in July and bid farewell to Outreach Coordinator Anni Ranck and Volunteer Coordinator Kim Hammond in August. Also, we have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the help of our summer interns, Alana Ranck, Rebekah Rice, and Chandler Sanford. We wish all the best of luck and smooth trails ahead.

I’m saddened by the loss of Jones Park irrigator, Mike Mayfield, who passed away on Monday, June 3. Mike oversaw the park’s irrigation system, operated the pontoon boat, and always provided expertise for our sound equipment. He will be greatly missed by staff, volunteers, and park patrons. The JJPV is donating a memorial bench in his honor. Anyone who would like to contribute to the bench can make a donation to the JJPV, with a note labeled “Mike’s bench.”







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07 Aug
By: Communications 0

2019 Fall Volunteer Opportunities

Join the JJPV team to help us bring exciting and educational events to the community.

 Volunteer Appreciation Party

Monday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m.

 Conservation Connections

Every Wednesday (beginning Sept. 4), from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

 Pioneer Vegetable Gardening

Saturday, Sept. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon.

 Native American Heritage Day

Saturday, Sept. 14, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

 HCFCU Fun Fair

Saturday, Sept. 21, from 7 a.m. to noon.

Invasives Beware!

Saturdays, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, and Nov. 25, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Settlers Store Craft Day

Saturday, Sept. 28, at 9 a.m.

JJPV Monthly Program & Meeting

Mondays, Sept. 30, Oct. 28, Nov. 25, and Dec. 16, at 7 p.m.

Volunteer Meet & Greet

Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Second Saturday Settlers

Spinning & Weaving: Saturday, Oct. 12, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Homestead Holiday: Saturday, Dec. 14, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Tricks & Treats Among the Trees

Saturday, Oct. 26, from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

 Pioneer Day

Saturday, Nov. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Plant Texas Natives

Saturday, Nov. 16, at 9 a.m.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Saturday, Dec. 7, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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24 Jul
By: Communications 0

Top Volunteers Go Down in History

Top Mercer volunteers were honored in May at a celebration recognizing 45 years of service, commitment, and community at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Fifteen volunteers who have contributed more than 2,000 hours received engraved walkway pavers, which were installed between the staff building and greenhouses. Collectively, these recipients have volunteered more than 38,000 hours at Mercer — the equivalent of more than 18 years of full-time work.

Congratulations to the paver recipients: Mary Helen Pritchett, Vickie Snyder, Barbara Ashburn, Helen Dowling, Carol Hellwig, Jere Noreager, Sherry Cruse, Don DuBois, Cynthia Douglas, Matt Strommer, Merle Reynolds, Dennis Samoska, Janet Winkler, Glenda Balione, and Carol Kobb.


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